I believe the better question is whether our career choice is meant to provide us with fulfillment and give us pleasure. Work as God intended is a career chosen by God’s will that should only bring us physical exhaustion, not spiritual or emotional weariness. We should be able to rejuvenate with the appropriate rest. I know that scripture disapproves of being a workaholic or a slave to work and requires us to take time for relaxation and worship.
The fact is that women have faced career issues for years due to certain assumptions about career development and these assumptions implicitly reflect male, western European experiences and worldviews. Because of this mind-set, gender differences in vocational interests have long been a focus of research as well as a source of personal controversy. For those of you that did not know: career selection for women does not begin in adulthood; from early childhood throughout life, many women are exposed to pervasive messages that a woman’s life should revolve around taking care of others and that their career plans are somehow super-imposed on this primary obligation. Additionally, women deal with finding and pursuing worthwhile careers even in this current age of equality and still face barriers to their careers and career opportunities. Even more challenging for us is that women and men are not equally represented across occupations.
Let’s turn to the Bible for guidance- women in the Bible held different roles; some roles were that of wife and mother while others held roles of queens and leaders. In our current society that is riddled with single mothers and broken homes; the traditional stay-at-home mom is not necessarily the norm. There are many examples of women who had to make tough choices and work outside of the home even back then. Great examples are Ruth, Naomi, Moses’ mother, and so on.
Secondly, women are given a maternal instinct that men are not blessed with and this makes it important that women make themselves accessible to their children. This can be troubling for some women who are mothers who work 40+ hours a week and have more than one child. We do not have to be superwomen! Although the Bible does not specifically discuss career guidance for women, it does show us that God intended for us to work. But how?
In the beginning, Eve was placed in the Garden of Eden to care for the garden and shared the responsibility of naming all of earth’s animals. After the Fall, work became more of a struggle and something to do in order to survive. Nowhere in the Bible do we see that we are to take it easy in regards to work though. It seems that God puts a high priority on all work including our internal work. Scripture gives many vocational choices: homemaker, fishermen, musician, tentmaker, political leader, carpenter, tax collector, hunter, salesperson, priest, prophet, sheepherder, shipbuilder, and many, many more. Lydia was a dealer in expensive cloths, Priscilla was a working wife who made tents with her spouse, and Mary ran a household. All these women were in God’s will for their chosen careers. Work appears to be part of God’s plan for our lives and it is often strenuous. Basically, if we want to eat we must work.
In our career choices, we often want to please our employers, but our main purpose is to joyously work hard at whatever our job is. Also there is this factor of having a calling from God. The Bible does give proof of God calling people into the ministry though. A clear example is the voice of God who spoke to Moses at the burning bush. It seems like these calls are not as dramatic as this today and some people may even question if God actually calls people like He did in the past. Given that we all have a ministry, God still directs those who acknowledge Him and He gives wisdom to those who seek His ways or rather just learn how to listen.
The Bibles does not specifically tell us what career choices to make or even where to go to college for career training. The Bible does speak of guidelines that we are to use to make career decisions though. It tells us to rely on Holy Spirit direction because it always leads us to what we should be doing. In order for us to be responsive, we must be sensitive to the influence of the (Holy Spirit, Inner Wisdom, Divine Presence, Women’s Intuition) – you pick one. We must learn to listen to our hearts in quietness.
Your career decision may be one of the most important choices you can make. All of your life is impacted by this choice. If you are to serve others in your career, your career must become an opportunity for building relationships, pleasing God, and lovingly reaching out to the lives of others. In doing this you will be a living example of the Proverbs 31 woman who wisely chose from her God-given gifts and developed them into a productive skill that blessed others and brought her much personal satisfaction and joy. Imagine that.